Most municipal laws go into effect 30 to 60 days after enactment. This gives your coalition an opportunity to educate the business community and the general public about the law's provisions and enforcement procedures. Often, the city or county will print a brochure explaining the purposes and mechanics of the law. The city or county might also send letters informing businesses of their responsibilities under the new law. Media contacts developed during the campaign can help with public education as well.
In general, smokefree laws have proved "self-enforcing," much like traffic laws. For the same reason that most drivers willingly stop at red lights, the vast majority of smokers politely refrain from smoking in smokefree areas when they are aware of the law and when nonsmoking areas are well marked.
Smokefree laws are uniformly popular with the vast majority of the public. With an on-going education program, the posting of numerous "No Smoking" signs, and the presence of a willing and committed enforcement agency, smokefree laws are usually implemented with a high level of compliance and very few negative incidents.
It is never to early to plan for implementation. This tip sheet includes an implementation checklist to help you prepare for and implement your new smokefree law.
& Implementation Resources
When it comes to enforcing your new law, educating business owners is essential. Create a business kit to help local business owners prepare for going smokefree. Consider providing smokefree signage along with these kits. Look for smokefree window-clings available in our merchandise section. Also visit www.goingsmokefree.org for other resources and implementation tips.
Defend the Ground You've
Just because a law is enacted, effective, and popular does not necessarily guarantee its continued success. Constant vigilance must be maintained to make sure that the tobacco industry does not reappear and attempt to rescind or gut the law. The industry may challenge the law by threatening or filing a lawsuit, encouraging organized non-compliance, placing a referendum on the ballot to overturn the law, or simply waiting until elections produce new legislators hostile to smokefree air laws. In the vast majority of cases, the tobacco industry's efforts to overturn or undermine a recently enacted law fail.
The coalition must be prepared to defend the ground it has gained. The best defense against tobacco industry attacks is a strong offense that includes effective coalition leadership, massive grassroots support, committed elected officials, and a well-written law.
The experiences of scores of municipalities that have enacted smokefree laws confirm that when we work smart we win. Some of the common denominators found in successful smokefree air campaigns include: